County Council Questions 911 Center Joining Northern Tier

- August 27, 2013 - Members of Erie County council met with officials from the Erie County 911 Center in a special meeting Tuesday afternoon with two objectives: discussing the pros/cons of the county joining Northern Tier, as well as discussing the pros/cons of funding a roughly $65,000 study for a new radio network.

The atmosphere in the meeting could be described at times as "testy."

Council members heard from Todd Geers, director of public safety at the 911 center, who said joining Northern Tier could save the county $358,000.

Northern Tier is a regional 911 calling network that multiple counties from the Northwest Pennsylvania area are already of part of, including Crawford, Warren, and McKean counties.

Geers said the network could simplify communication between dispatch services; however, Millcreek, East County, and Pennsylvania State Police barracks would not be able to be a part of this consolidation, because Pennsylvania law does not allow the use of 911 funds fro secondary centers (which those three entities are considered to be.)

The secondary dispatch services would have to come out of pocket to be a part of the consolidated network.

Because of the inability to include the three different dispatch services, county councilman Phil Fatica said he finds it hard to approve this change with the taxpayers' money at this time, although he does think consolidation is a good idea, and in time, it will happen.

The other hot topic at this afternoon's meeting was whether or not to fund a study of a new radio network.

"If we're serious about improving the radio system, we have to freshen up the study, we have to do it again and yes, that costs money. If we don't want a radio system, don't do the study," said Geers.

However, Fatica questions whether this study will provide council with any new information that wasn't already addressed in other studies in the past.

"There are those of us who say the study is going to show what that we haven't seen before? We know what is needed; we don't need another analysis," said Fatica.

The council and center did not come to an agreement at this time.

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